Muslims Attack Christian Funeral in Egypt, 1 Killed, 23 Injured
By Mary Abdelmassih
(AINA) -- Thousands of Copts attended the funeral service held today at St Mark Cathedral in Cairo for the Coptic victims killed by Muslims on April 4 and 5 in al-Khosous, Qaliubiya (AINA 4-6-2013). The service was attended by Christians from all denominations as well as Muslims.
Priests holding the service were unable to calm the Copts and at several times the service was interrupted by the wailing of the mothers of the victims, protests by angry Copts demanding retribution, and chants saying "no to the persecution and killing of Copts." Political chants dominated the scene, demanding President Morsi to "Go Away," and banners holding him responsible for the killing of Copts in al-Khosous were displayed.
After the funeral services ended, as coffins and attendants were leaving the cathedral, unidentified persons fired shots in front of the cathedral. It was reported that clashes took place between Copts coming out of the Cathedral and Muslims in the area, and that Muslims were on roof tops of neighboring buildings firing at them (video).
Muslim activists who were present at the funeral, such as renowned activist Alaa Abdel Fatah, and the Maspero Coptic Youth Unions, among others, tried in vain to bring the Coptic youth inside the Cathedral to avoid a confrontation with the Muslim attackers.
Fire broke out in one of the buildings inside the headquarters of the cathedral after Molotov cocktails were hurled at it. The fire was put out by the civil protection forces.
24 Copts were injured and were transported to nearby Demerdash Hospital. One of Copts, Mahrous Hanna Ibrahim, died from gun shots wounds to the head and neck after reaching the hospital.
Eye-witnesses reported there were no security forces guarding the Cathedral.
After fighting broke out, Security forces arrived late and blocked several roads leading to the Cathedral. Security fired tear gas at the Papal residence and the Cathedral, which was filled with hundreds of mourners. Several NGOs received calls from mourners inside the cathedral, saying they were in great danger of suffocation.
The Free Egyptian Party condemned the attack on the coffins in front of the Cathedral as being "collusion." Mohamad Abu Hamad, former MP, accused the Muslim Brotherhood of shooting cartridges towards the petrol station neighboring the Cathedral.
Video shows street fighting and houses neighboring St. Mark Cathedral burning
The Council of Churches of Egypt condemned the attack on the cathedral of St. Mark, and said in its statement that attacks on places of worship are unacceptable. The statement called on state agencies to immediately intervene. Pope Tawadros II called on the need for "calm and the realization of the mind to maintain the safety of the nation, the lives and national unity."
Also father Dumas Fekry of St. Georges church in al-Khosous confirmed this morning that since yesterday evening there was gunfire near the church, without casualties.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement issued this afternoon the funeral mourners were responsible for causing the clashes.
Late yesterday evening the head of Forensics examined Coptic bodies and reported that the four Copts killed at al-Khosous were shot by snipers from high places, based on the angle of the passing bullets.
By Mary Abdelmassih